Well-Known Chefs Working From Home In Ny..how?

Business By jmr531 Updated 23 May 2011 , 7:45pm by LindaF144a

jmr531 Posted 19 May 2011 , 8:40pm
post #1 of 20

I'm watching Wedding Cake Masters and the narrator mentioned that Margaret Braun makes cakes in the tiny kitchen of the Manhattan apartment where she lives. How is this possible? I thought that you could not sell cakes from home in NY. In the past, I've also heard that Kate Sullivan makes her cakes from in her NYC apartment. Am I missing something? I'm working my behind off to get the proper licensing and insurance for the cake business that I am launching and it took me forever to find a kitchen I could work out of, but if I can get licensed and insured to work from home that would save me plenty of money!

Does anyone know how these chefs are allowed to sell cakes from their NYC apartments?

19 replies
LindaF144a Posted 19 May 2011 , 8:47pm
post #2 of 20

It varies from county to county in NYS. But we do have a Home Processing Permit that allows you to sell wholesale from your home. Possibly this is what they are using in NYC. Or it could be that NYC has a separate law for this. But I think in the case of one of these ladies I read that they either rent a commercial kitchen or have an approved one in their apartment. I can't remember which, I just remember that this has come in conversation before, possibly on CC.

jmr531 Posted 19 May 2011 , 8:58pm
post #3 of 20

Yeah, I saw a thread in which someone mentioned that one of the chefs has the baking done somewhere else and only does the decorating in her apartment. I got excited after hearing that because I was considering doing the same thing, but when I called the Health Department to get more details they told me that is not allowed. I don't think they are using the Home Processing Permit because, as you said, you can only sell wholesale. It's just very frustrating to see some people doing things that you have been told are not allowed. I would love to know how they got the necessary licensing to work form home.

jmr531 Posted 19 May 2011 , 9:08pm
post #4 of 20

By the way, I know that there are some areas in NY state that allow cakes to be sold from home. I'm asking specifically about chefs working out of home in NYC, where I have been told by the Health Department that it is illegal to sell cake from home directly to retail customers (not wholesale).

brown_suga Posted 19 May 2011 , 9:13pm
post #5 of 20

I also live in NY, in the Bronx and am very interested in unraveling the mystery of how Kate and Margaret became legal, and insured. Are there any NY cc'ers from the 5 boroughs that have REAL experience with this. I'm talking about someone that currently runs a legal cake deco business from their apartment.

Cindy619 Posted 19 May 2011 , 9:20pm
post #6 of 20

There is a thread somewhere that discusses this, I just don't remember where. Some health departments in NY will allow you to "assemble" from your home kitchen. All the food prep, baking etc needs to be done in a licensed kitchen, but the decorating may be done from your home kitchen if your health dept has given you the okay. As with everything, speak directly with your own health dept and see what they allow.

jason_kraft Posted 19 May 2011 , 9:32pm
post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmr531

Does anyone know how these chefs are allowed to sell cakes from their NYC apartments?



Just because they are selling cakes from home doesn't mean they are legally allowed to do it.

It's also possible that they just have a home office in their apt and do the decorating in a commercial kitchen, but the TV show took liberties with the facts to make it sound more interesting (in my experience this often happens when dealing with the media).

jmr531 Posted 20 May 2011 , 12:44am
post #8 of 20

Thanks for the responses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cindy619

There is a thread somewhere that discusses this, I just don't remember where. Some health departments in NY will allow you to "assemble" from your home kitchen. All the food prep, baking etc needs to be done in a licensed kitchen, but the decorating may be done from your home kitchen if your health dept has given you the okay. As with everything, speak directly with your own health dept and see what they allow.




I did speak to the Health Department and specifically asked them about this. It is not allowed in NYC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Just because they are selling cakes from home doesn't mean they are legally allowed to do it.

It's also possible that they just have a home office in their apt and do the decorating in a commercial kitchen, but the TV show took liberties with the facts to make it sound more interesting (in my experience this often happens when dealing with the media).




This is true.

By the way, I don't mean to sound like a whiner...lol. I was just surprised and frustrated when I saw yet another NYC-based cake artist working out of home. I am doing all that I can to be in a position to sell cakes legally in my area, but it has been a long process...and it's not cheap.

LindaF144a Posted 20 May 2011 , 12:56am
post #9 of 20

I know what you are saying and I am not trying to defend anybody. But I do know one of those people you mentioned in your first question answered how she did it here on CC the last time this came up. I know it is hard to do a search here on CC, but you may want to look for that and see what the response was then.

MadMillie Posted 20 May 2011 , 1:00am
post #10 of 20

Could they be "grandfathered in" under previous regulations? Or do they live in an apartment building that has a restaurant that cover's their butts for them?

jason_kraft Posted 20 May 2011 , 1:32am
post #11 of 20

Here is a relevant thread, according to the home bakers they are allowed to decorate but not bake at home in NYC. Not sure how accurate this is.

http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=691581&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=0

Considering how many restaurants there are in Manhattan, the health dept probably has more pressing issues to deal with.

crushed Posted 20 May 2011 , 1:49am
post #12 of 20

I was just watching this show and noticed that it looks like Margaret might have a second kitchen in her home. The one she was working in was incredibly small and hardly looked like her primary kitchen...

jmr531 Posted 20 May 2011 , 2:21am
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Here is a relevant thread, according to the home bakers they are allowed to decorate but not bake at home in NYC. Not sure how accurate this is.

http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=691581&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=0

Considering how many restaurants there are in Manhattan, the health dept probably has more pressing issues to deal with.




Thanks for the link. I have seen this thread before. That is what prompted me to call the NYC Health Department a while back. I was told that I would not be able to decorate and sell cakes from home even if they are baked in a separate licensed commercial kitchen. Maybe it's a matter of digging further.

Cindy619 Posted 20 May 2011 , 3:05am
post #14 of 20

I did speak directly with one of the decorators after the show originally aired and they are the ones that told me that the health dept allows them to assemble from home. Maybe it depends upon who you actually talk to at the health dept. We've all heard on here how people in the same area will get different responses from their health dept. I've learned to always talk to the same person when I have a question and document the conversation. For those who live in NYC, have you tried asking the health dept how so and so operates if you aren't allowed to assemble from home? I'd be curious what they would say. Maybe it's politics - the rules change based on who you know!

scp1127 Posted 20 May 2011 , 3:25am
post #15 of 20

You can hear different things from different people, but you can't go by that. It will not hold up legally. Every area has a written code. Just get it and read it for yourself. Get a HD application, the engineering application, and an application from Dept of Ag. Ask each for the coordinating website. Each packet should give you the path to licensing.

buttercuppie Posted 21 May 2011 , 4:20pm
post #16 of 20

I live in NYC and just got my commercial kitchen approved about 2 months ago and yeah it's an absolute pain trying to get set up in a legal kitchen. Between trying to find somewhere that's within your budget, if it's shared or yours completely, the health dept inspection (which was honestly the easiest thing go figure icon_confused.gif , and let's not even get into what you need to get licensed (insurance wise). Everytime I called with a particular question I would get a different answer...example: What size Grease Trap do I need...health dept didn't know, I called the DEP...the people I spoke with didn't even know what a grease trap was...I must have spoken with about 8 different people between the two depts and no one knew the answer.

Yeah, it's frustrating because you see them decorating from what seems like their house...frankly, I don't know how they do it. My advice (as expensive as it may be) is to continue in your current vain of setting up a legal commercial space...that way you have somewhere to go, don't have to worry about the "what-ifs" if the health dept comes...and your home remains your home...believe me...sometimes after a crazy long shift, it's nice to go somewhere where there is no cake...HTH

robinmarie Posted 21 May 2011 , 4:50pm
post #17 of 20

Just curious, where did you see this show? Am I missing a new cake show and where can I watch an episode?

alvarezmom Posted 23 May 2011 , 5:06pm
post #18 of 20

I remember that episode, and it said that Margaret worked from her home! Never said anything about 2 kitchens. Did say that she keeps her apartment below 70 degrees. I dont recall it mentioning if she baked her cakes there, but she was decorating.

chrissypie Posted 23 May 2011 , 5:39pm
post #19 of 20

It is so confusing and frustrating because I just read something that says in New York State, you are exempt from liscensing requirements if you make cakes that don't require refrigeration. All the confusing info is just crazy. Another frustrating thing is that I can't tell you how many people I know on Long Island that sell cakes on the side illegally. I don't have the cajones to do it because I have no desire to be sued out of house and home. But those I have told that it is illegal are floored! They have/had no idea it was illegal. And these are just the ones I have told. It may seem wrong but sometimes I just don't have it in me to inform some people it is illegal. But it does burn to see all these people making side money. Oh well! How do we all go about getting a cottage law passed in NY!

LindaF144a Posted 23 May 2011 , 7:45pm
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrissypie

It is so confusing and frustrating because I just read something that says in New York State, you are exempt from liscensing requirements if you make cakes that don't require refrigeration. All the confusing info is just crazy. Another frustrating thing is that I can't tell you how many people I know on Long Island that sell cakes on the side illegally. I don't have the cajones to do it because I have no desire to be sued out of house and home. But those I have told that it is illegal are floored! They have/had no idea it was illegal. And these are just the ones I have told. It may seem wrong but sometimes I just don't have it in me to inform some people it is illegal. But it does burn to see all these people making side money. Oh well! How do we all go about getting a cottage law passed in NY!




I must have read it wrong. I think I know where you are referring to on the NYS page. It does not say you are exempt. It says it covers for things like baked good that require no refrigeration. That falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture.

If you are in doubt, don't trust what you think you read, call your local Dept of Health of your local Dept of Agriculture. I would start with the DoA, they cover those that bake WHOLESALE out of your home. They also cover it for Farmer's Markets also. Technically we do have a cottage law and that is what you read and misunderstood. Under the cottage law you are not allowed to sell directly to the public except through a Farmer's Market. I have no idea what the fine is for not complying, that is another question to ask the DoA.

As far as a cottage law, we kind of have one with these restrictions. It works. I know a few people who do quite well with wholesale business to restaurants, etc. I also know those that have complete DoH approved kitchens in their home. I decided against that route due to resale value and where my home is located. But there are ways to accomplish what you want legally.

Frankly I would be more concerned with not reporting the income more than I would be with the DoH. It could nastier dealing with the IRS than backing illegally.

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